Messy Writing

By Julia Bohlmann

Messy.” flickr photo by JessicaHume. shared under a Creative Commons (BY-ND) license

I’m a draft writer or daft writer, depending what way you are looking at it. What I’m trying to say is that I’m a writer of multiple drafts. This is because I have long accepted that my first two drafts of anything are going to be messy. So apart from being a d(r)aft writer, I’m also a messy writer. You can tell from the way I’m writing about this that I’m not exactly proud of being a messy draft writer. I wish my sentences and paragraphs would come out fully formed and beautiful. I know very few people who achieve this and I believe they are people who procrastinate a lot and need the pressure of the deadline to focus their mind. I also need the pressure of the deadline, but I also need time. I need to spend time with an idea for it to develop and grow and for me this time is best spent writing. I need writing to think through an idea or a problem and that can get quite messy. After I have set down some messy ideas, I use the second and third drafts (sometimes more depending on the size of the mess) to tidy up and polish. To give you an idea of what my messy writing looks like I’m giving you an example from an article that took a while to develop. The following are 3 initial drafts, the third and final of which I submitted to an academic journal, and it got accepted (with changes).

Tidy(ish) and Ready for Submission Draft 3

While the third and final draft was the one I submitted for peer review, you can imagine that it was not the last word. The rigorous and stimulating peer review (which was very enjoyable indeed because it was like a scholarly conversation) meant that it went through a further three drafts. If you want to read the final final final result of my messy drafting process you can do so here:

I hope what my short piece has shown is that there really is no shame in being a messy d(r)aft writer. On the page is where most of my thinking happens. We are all getting there in the end.

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